This is the time of year, here in Europe, when the cold settles in and snow looms. It is the time when happy decorations are being hung and placed, markets sheds are being arranged in town squares, and people are turning their thoughts and hands to carefully wrapped gifts that will find their way under twinkling trees, awaiting to be opened in just under four weeks’ time.
It is a period when we look forward to the joyful squeals of children and the exchange of heartfelt wishes with those around us. Christmas is coming
I work at a school, now bedecked with the trimmings of the season, where the major proportion of our students are international boarders. We close over the three weeks of the Christmas break and all of our boarding students will venture to the airport to journey back to family and friends and the traditions they hold. There is a growing sense of anticipation. They are heading home.
As educators, we are responsible for these young people and our obligations run far beyond the training of the academic mind. We are bound to act in loco parentis, to care for children as their parents would, had they been present. To do this, we must keep ourselves open to who these young people are if we are to guide them and help them grow in every way. For some of our students, Christmas carries no deep meaning. They are of different cultures, of different beliefs and, because of the way our calendars are organised, they cannot be with their families at those times that are culturally or religiously significant. This is why, this year, our school chose to recognise the diversity that exists and observe Chanukah.
I could narrate the event, but that would be a story. It isn’t what is important. What is to be said is that for that short time that the event lasted, I found myself in a place of reverence, harmony, and joy. A place where a handful of adults and students gathered as one to light candles, recite blessings, and tell stories of family and home. I was only an observer, and I could never know what they knew, but there was something there, something in the light that touched me.
I am grateful to be an educator.